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Packing a writer’s suitcase

When heading off on holiday with your pet writer, it’s safest to assume that, whatever you’re looking forward to, the journey or arriving, climate or landscape, culture or food, the lazing or gadding about, what they’re looking forward to is the chance to do more writing.

They don’t plan to take a break from writing the way that you don’t plan to take a break from oxygen.

As you’re undoubtedly fond of your writer, you may choose to gift them extra time muttering over their manuscript, by packing a suitcase for them. If so, bravo.

Here’s a few writerly things to include that will help make your trip a success.

Their current notebook: they need it almost as much as they do you. Please don’t be tempted to read it: the gibberish contained within could be dangerous to your mind.

'I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.' Oscar Wilde

A pristine new notebook: not just backup for the first, but ready to deploy should any minor travel hitch leave your writer’s bottom lip trembling.

Pens by the fistful: writers make pens vanish, their unwitting magic trick.

The top book: on their current reading pile, and the rest of the pile, even the dusty ones at the bottom they’ve forgotten they absolutely had to read immediately.

A wide-brimmed hat and/or parasol: writers are unused to prolonged exposure to daylight.

Ear plugs: in case your destination’s background noise is not the required inspiring kind, but the tantrum-inducing distracting kind.

Scrabble or other word games: most writers can be persuaded that playing them is almost writing; it is advisable to accept their made-up words and to let them win.

Keys: Unless your writer is a longhander, a rare breed these days, packing their preferred typing device could pose a particular challenge. You may struggle to detach their fingers and the machinery might not be portable. In the first case, you’ll need patience and a mild sedative, and in the second, a trunk and a butler. Nobody said keeping a writer was going to be easy, or cheap.

Prompts: if your writer becomes blocked, and remains blocked, it will be unpleasant for both of you. Bring themed calls for submissions, evocative images, and curious newspaper cuttings. In extremis, you might oblige them to have a stimulating experience.

Having made these preparations, all should be well. Please be aware that they may not be necessary: it has been known for writers to arrive on holiday and forget the idea of writing altogether.

'The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.' Marcel Proust

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